I’ve been doing a lot of interviews with companies that are selling renewable energy services, but what I’m really interested in learning about is how property owners are making their purchasing decisions. If we can better understand the customer, it will be easier to sell to them.

After I published some data on the Massachusetts solar PV market, Gary Best reached out to me with a few questions about the data.

Gary is a homeowner in Massachusetts that recently purchased a solar PV project for his house and then started a great website for other homeowners in Massachusetts. What’s really great about his website is that it’s a “homeowner to homeowner” site. He’s not selling anything. He uses language that he understand and discusses the research that he did when deciding to purchase his system.

I spoke with Gary for a little longer then 15 minutes and learn A LOT of valuable lessons that will be useful to any solar company that wants to improve their sales.

Here are the 5 major learning points from our conversation

Here’s a big learning point. Gary was just doing this to save money, it wasn’t about being green. He went with solar because he thought got a lot of sun and DID NOT consider other technology (geothermal, energy efficiency). However, AFTER installing the system he’s started researching other ways to save money in his bills. Solar is a good introduction technology, then you can sell other technologies and services!
Gary first thought about solar when he received a post card from Sungevity, but he didn’t end up buying from them for a few reasons. 1) They didn’t go a site visit 2) He wanted to OWN the panels not lease them
Gary said there was a huge distinction between companies that did a phone interview vs a site visit. He was much more confident in companies that actually came to his house. He could actually meet them, get to know them, and it gave him more confidence that they knew what they were doing.
Gary had a simple buying criteria, he wanted to get meaningful returns and he wanted to trust the contractor.
He didn’t go with a 100% lease because he would only save $30 per month, but he didn’t have the cash to purchase it outright. He went with a 3rd party loan that costs him 8%. He owns the panels, but has some debt on them. He saved $100 a month from day 1, and will own them in 7 to 8 years.

Here’s our full discussion

Gary, what’s the story of your solar system? Why and how did you decide to go solar? When did it happen?
Gary always thought his house would do well with solar, his house is facing south and he noticed he always got a lot of sun in the summer
He first thought he could do it when he got a post card from sungevity and looking at the numbers it showed he could save $30 a month. At the time, he thought that would great, $30 for free was great!
However, he started doing research remembering that “owning is better then leasing” and he decided to do some research to figure out how much it would cost to buy.